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Attention Economy

T4 - Attention

"Where attention goes, energy flows." - James Redfield

Attention is one of the most valuable currencies. 

Yet, how it's traded, captured, retained has evolved dramatically with technological and societal shifts.

Looking at the world's largest companies – from Amazon and Meta to Apple and Google – it's evident that their rapid growth in the past decade has been largely fueled by their mastery in capturing and retaining attention.

Historically, the introduction of broadcast media in the 1950s created what might be called the "public square," a central arena where anyone could capture attention simply by showing up (and having the largest wallet).

This was the golden age of mass media, exemplified by the dominance of TV and radio. Companies like NBC and CBS in the became household names by offering content that appealed to a broadest audiences. And, given audiences had minimal choice (or power) they opted in.

The rise of the internet and digital technology fostered a major shift, leading to the era of the "personalized square."

This transformation allowed individuals to customize their consumption (and connections) based on personal preferences and behavior, fundamentally changing the locus of control from media conglomerates to tech platforms like Facebook and Google. These platforms harnessed data to offer unprecedented personalization, allowing advertisers to rent attention with precision.

Today, we are witnessing a further evolution from the personalized square to what can be described as "private squares."

In these spaces, access to attention is not just bought; it must be earned. The private squares are intimate, member-owned communities where engagement is driven by shared interests and values rather than algorithmic suggestions.

Whether a private Slack group, a member's only newsletter via Substack or Patreon (ex. Tobes' SPN), or a built out community on Circle or Mighty Networks that mirrors LinkedIn (ex. Jon + Becky's We are for Good) – each is owned and operated by people not platforms.

As we move towards these increasingly closed and self-controlled "private squares," the ability to 'buy' or 'rent' attention diminishes. Marketers must now focus on earning trust and providing genuine value.
Here are some questions I'd recommend you consider:

  1. What value or "legos" does your organization have that could uniquely add value within a private community?
  2. What role should you play in the private square? Should you partner closely with owners? Build our own? Focus on enabling your community to advocate for you in these spaces?

The shift from public to personalized, and now to private squares, challenges traditional marketing strategies. These changes require you to rethink engagement strategies, double down on retention and loyalty, and adapt resourcing to account for the new ways in which people connect and consume.

Each resource this week is hand-picked to help you consider how this shift will impact your organization, and ways you can build better in the Private Square era. Let’s dive in! 


Invisible Influence

(video | audio) – via Jonah Berger

Whether we realize it or not, other people have a surprising impact on almost everything we do. It can be hard to recognize this influence in our own lives, but just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. By better understanding how social influence works, we can harness its power to motivate ourselves and others, be more influential, and make better decisions.

Day Trading Attention

(interview | words) – via Warren Berger 

‘Day trading attention’ is a term coined by Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia and progressive marketing thinker, to describe a marketing practice that he uses to grow social media following and businesses.

Basically, it’s the nuanced art of paying attention in order to get attention. Day traders are professionals who deal in the buying and selling of stock and shares, and are renowned for having their ears to the ground and for their eagle-eyed attention to what’s happening at any given moment, and how they can leverage it. Day trading attention is applying that same skillset to marketing.

What is a Community-as-Business?

(words) – via Sam Hudson

A community business model enables the magic of human connection to fuel business growth and revenue. In this digital age, we’re transcending the old brick-and-mortar mindset and knitting together networks of passionate people in digital spaces.

At its core, a community business model isn’t just about transactions; it’s about interactions. It’s the art of transforming conversations and shared interests into a thriving ecosystem that’s as profitable as it is personable. We’re talking about a space where members don’t just consume; they contribute, co-create, and connect.


Strategic Advisor

Hey 👋 - I'm Noah!
founder of TOGETHER 4

I help impact leaders build better. Think of me as your growth partner – part strategic advisor and part leadership coach. 

After spending 15+ years in-house designing growth plans and building teams, I’m now a consultant lending my experience and learnings to you, while building the community where impact leaders gather and grow.

I’ve led and advised growth at organizations such as Virtuous, Feathr, HubSpot, World Help, The Adventure Project, CauseVox, and many more.

Whether you’re on the frontlines fighting for change or building better tech and services to activate more – you’re an impact leader, and I’m here to help. Book your complimentary discovery session today.